A new baby, a new home for Richland woman

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 29, 2012 

When Jacqui Munson was pregnant with her infant daughter, she wasn't sure when her family would find a home.

But 7-week-old Jaden, who squirms in her mother's arms and chews on one of her own pudgy fists, had a home to come to after she was born Dec. 6 weighing 8 pounds, 10.9 ounces.

Munson, 24, and her family had been homeless since July, when they were evicted from their Richland apartment after Munson lost her job and the family ran through its savings.

Munson, boyfriend Alan Dixon and their son Jorden, 5, were living at Pasco's Tri-City Union Gospel Mission during the week Jaden was due in mid-November. Munson and Jorden were in the women's shelter, while Dixon was living next door at the men's shelter, where they had been since Sept. 8.

Now, Jaden has a bassinet in the family's two-bedroom apartment in Kennewick, but Munson said the baby prefers to sleep with her mom. And as Munson talks and rocks Jaden, her daughter begins to doze.

Munson said they moved into their new apartment Nov. 22, which happened to be Dixon's 25th birthday.

Munson and Dixon's struggle started in February when Munson lost her job as a housekeeping supervisor and front desk agent at a local hotel. At the time, she wasn't worried, but she couldn't find a job.

A month later, she learned she was pregnant.

Dixon continues to search for a job and has been working day jobs when he can find them, Munson said.

Munson talks about her difficult recovery from giving birth, and she plans to begin looking for employment as soon as she is able. She stopped job hunting when she was six months pregnant, assuming no one would to hire a woman who was pregnant.

Munson and her family have received an outpouring of support from Tri-Citians -- and beyond.

A man who was passing through the area and saw the Nov. 17 Herald story about Munson. He made an anonymous donation of $2,500 to the family, a gift Munson said will help with rent and utilities on their apartment until April.

It also gives them about two more months to try to find work, since the housing assistant they received from Community Action Connections ends next week.

Donations made to the family through the mission included diapers, wipes and a car seat for Jaden. Everything they needed for the baby was donated or provided by the mission, Munson said, adding that she has needed to buy just one outfit.

Jorden also received presents from Toys for Tots and Bethel Church, Munson said.

Jorden started kindergarten at Vista Elementary after winter break was over. He has adjusted to his new school, Munson said, and when he comes home, often says, "Mom, I had a great day."

They plan to apply for a scholarship so Jorden can play baseball this year. Munson said Jorden and his dad have been practicing with the baseball glove, bat and balls Jorden received for Christmas.

Although the family has a home, Munson knows their struggles aren't over.

Dixon still needs a job, and right now the family only receives assistance from food stamps and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

"We are just kind of in the next phase of our struggle," she said.

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